Book Review: All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Book Review: All The Bright Places by Jennifer NivenAll The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
on 7th January 2015
Pages: 400
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister's recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it's unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the 'natural wonders' of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It's only with Violet that Finch can be himself - a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who's not such a freak after all. And it's only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet's world grows, Finch's begins to shrink

Finch manages to find at least one good thing about each day but Violet can’t find anything to be happy about since her sister died. When they find themselves in the same place at the same time, Finch is drawn to Violet and wants to find out more about her. Assigned together as part of a school project, the two of them find there is more to life than what is on the surface and beauty can be found in the every day.

From the first page I was drawn into All The Bright Places. Violet and Finch are both outsiders but for entirely different reasons. Violet is in a kind of self-induced seclusion, not knowing how to live without her sister in her life. Finch is a teenage enigma with him constantly reinventing himself and occasionally checking out of life for weeks at a time. Both of them need help and it is through each other they find a friend who understands better than anyone else how they feel.

This book deals with a lot of tough issues (depression, grief, suicide, abuse, complicated family situations) and Jennifer Niven writes about them in a beautifully sensitive way. It is at times dark but at the same time an honest portrayal of what it must be like for these characters. There is a certain stigma in society about anything to do with mental illness and alike but in this novel I appreciated how honestly and judgement-free the author depicted their plights. All The Bright Places is a beautifully written book and I can see this book being adored by fans of John Green or Laurie Halse Anderson.

In addition to the heavier aspects of this book, there is also a great story involving hope and the brighter parts of life. I loved the adventures Finch and Violet went on whilst ‘wandering’ as well as how they helped each at the same time. It’s such a well conceived book with a lot of thought to how everything interconnected. Violet and Finch’s relationship was a pleasure to read from their initial meeting right up to the final page. Their path wasn’t always easy but that added to the realistic nature as well as the brightened the bright places they visited. The romance is exquisite. Like – this is one of those relationships where my heart hurts and swells with all the emotion. I wanted them to succeed as a couple and delighted in all the moments they shared together.

I laughed, I cried and upon reflection I also found myself questioning certain things the characters did. There is a part concerning on particular character and I wonder why more wasn’t done by friends and authority figures (i.e. teachers, parents etc.). But for the most part I adored this story. There is a fantastic mix of emotion, great story and characters I couldn’t help but adore. I didn’t want the story to end but I thought the conclusion was perfect for the novel and the characters.

All The Bright Places is a beautiful novel with so much going for it. The characters, the plot, the layers of emotion and the well thought out way everything comes together. Perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell, AJ Betts and John Green, this book is a thoughtful look on real life issues and hope.

Thanks to Penguin Teen Australia for the review copy. 


  1. All I’ve heard is good things about this book, so it might be something worth reading even though I don’t usually read many contemporary books or books about mental illness. I agree that there is a stigma surrounding mental illness so I think it’s interesting that these characters can combat that. The characters sound so complex, which I love in characters. It makes the read so much more enjoyable.

  2. Sounds like an insightful and emotional read. I’ve heard so many great things about this book and can’t wait to pick it up. Definitely glad it’s addressed some serious themes, hopefully gives something for some readers to relate to and find solace in.

  3. Beautiful review Kate, I mentioned the stigma attached to it as well and I was glad the characters were unconventional and really made us feel for them you know? It was sad about the parents and Theodore’s family, but I’m glad he found Violet.

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